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Mending the Burst Canadian Energy Bubble

Canada energy sector

A recurring Alberta theme the past decade, in some circles, albeit for the most part seen as little more than a public relations exercise, has been the oil sands as revenue stream for Canada’s transition from petrostate to “green energy superpower”.

For example, in his 2009 book Green Oil: Clean Energy for the 21st Century?, author Satya Das suggested revenue from $15-trillion worth of  oil sands could be used to finance a green Canadian future.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, that $15 trillion looks like a mirage even as the prospects for a green future and the need to finance that future becomes increasingly certain.  

As Albert’s Environment Minister, Shannon Phillips, recently pointed out, “We are entering a world that is going to be constrained with respect to carbon.”

The extent of that constraint however is probably far greater than most Canadian, particularly Alberta, politicians would care to admit. At the recently concluded Paris climate talks Canada’s Environment Minister, Catherine McKenna, endorsed a call to hold global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and that call was heeded with the concluded agreement to keep “well below” 2 degrees.

Even keeping to 2 degrees, a study lead by Christophe McGlade of University College London suggests, would require foregoing the burning of a third of the world’s oil reserves, half of its gas reserves and keeping over 80 per cent of the coal remaining in the ground and of the burnable oil virtually none would come from the Alberta oil sands due to the high cost and high emissions associated with their recovery.

Instead of having trillions to spend to develop renewable energy and fulfill their Paris commitments to the environment, here and here, the Alberta government projects a budget deficit of $6.1 billion for fiscal 2015-16 and $18 billion in total over the next 4 years and the newly elected federal Liberal government of Canada says the $2.3-billion surplus projected by the previous Conservative government for this year is more likely to be a $3-billion deficit on top of the $10 billion deficits they promised during the election campaign to run each of the next three years to kick-start the Canadian economy through infrastructure spending.

A large part of the revenue shortfall of both governments has come about as a result of the slump in oil prices from about $60 US per barrel a year ago to less than $40 today.

Canada is the 5th greatest producer of oil and has the 3rd largest reserves but that doesn’t mean much to the Canadian taxpayer or the provincial owners of the resource when the cost of production is higher than the market value of the oil and when the 2nd largest, and lowest cost oil producer, is set on undercutting the competition to ensure it has nothing left in the ground once the environmental limits to burning fossil fuels has been reached.

Alberta and Canada as a whole are essentially petrostates absent the benefits of state control of the resource, the price it can demand for that resource or the revenue derived from its sale.

The Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund is essentially a sovereign wealth fund; the only one in the country, but of the close to $200 billion in non-renewable resource revenue that has been generated since its inception in 1976 the value of the fund, as of March 31, 2014, was only $17.5 billion, less than the projected accumulated deficits for the province the next 4 years.

Both the provincial and federal governments have pledged to reduce carbon emissions but their most vital concern is the advancement of the well-being of their citizens.

For too long they have financed that advancement on the back of uncertain petroleum revenues that are now drying up and there is no immediate, recognized, replacement.

Salvation, at least in the short run, would emerge in the form of technology that produces bitumen at no cost, without carbon emissions and that could generate sufficient revenue that the country and province could affordably transition away from the boom and bust cycle of the oil industry to a sustainable future.

In the absence of such a miracle it is hard to see how the environmental undertakings of Canadian politicians can be financed.

Australia, like Canada, depends heavily on resource extraction to finance its economy and both countries are confronted by similar economic realities.

Former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke suggests that beyond the obvious alternatives of reducing expenditures, increasing taxes or some combination of the two, in the face of the new reality, there is another alternative; a new source of revenue, which for Australia he suggests should be taking the world’s nuclear waste.

In other words he is prepared to be innovative in the face of stark reality.

There are vast, remote and dry regions of Australia, which is a stable democracy thus it is an ideal location for storing spent nuclear fuel; a service for which a global clientele appears to be willing to pay in the vicinity of $100 billion dollars (about double the projected deficits of Canada and Alberta over the next 4 years).

Canada is also a stable democracy. Rather than being dry however it has large tracts of bitumen, a recognized sealant for underground repositories, into which the world’s waste can be placed, for a fee.

Over the long term the heat and ionization radiation of that waste would cause the highly viscous bitumen to flow to a producing well and split some of the low grade bitumen molecules into more valuable fractions. 

Further information regarding the nuclear assisted hydrocarbon production method is available here and here.

It is likely such an effort would have to be federally controlled and there is a precedent, the Suffield Experimental Station.  

DRDC Suffield was a research facility established in 1941 as a joint British/Canadian biological and chemical defence facility. It is a 2690 square kilometer block of land in southeastern Alberta that by the end of the Second World War housed 584 personnel trained in chemistry, physics, meteorology, mathematics, pharmacology, pathology, bacteriology, physiology, entomology, veterinary science, mechanical and chemical engineering. This land was expropriated by the Province of Alberta on behalf of the Canadian Federal Government to which it was leased for ninety-nine years at a cost of one dollar per year to support the war effort.

Suffield is an area within which efforts were undertaken that would today be seen as no less controversial or dangerous than the disposal of nuclear waste.

After the war the block was transferred from the province to the federal government in exchange for a large number of army and air camps and buildings from the Dominion Government and it has subsequently been used for large, experimental, chemical and explosive efforts and training.

In 1974 the federal and provincial governments signed a surface access agreement for the purpose of developing petroleum reserves in the area and subsequently 14,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled on the site, mostly by the Alberta Energy Company (AEC) which was formed at the height of the OPEC oil embargo, with provincial government support. The province held 50 percent of the initial shares in an effort intended to try and lessen dependence on foreign oil.

Today that same oil is undercutting the oil sands and many see climate change as no less a threat than was faced in the middle of the twentieth century.

Subsequently the province divested its interest in AEC, which became one of Canada’s largest private-sector independent oil and gas exploration and production companies prior to merging with PanCanadian Energy Corporation in 2002 to form Encana.

There is every reason to suspect nuclear waste disposal and bitumen recovery from using the heat of spent nuclear fuel, on expropriated lands, can today be every bit as lucrative a proposition.

The private sector aren’t about to take on such an effort, at least not initially and it doubtful there will be any major,  new, oil sands efforts in any event as things currently stand. 

Besides a private initiative isn’t likely to turn around and funnel revenues into an energy source that can actually unrealized the radiative imbalance created by global warming by moving surface heat through a heat engine into the ocean abyss; an effort that can unwind the damage caused by the burning of fossil fuels (see here and here) and fulfill the commitment to a 1.5 degree temperature increase.

The Alberta and Canadian governments have every opportunity to live up to their commitments. All that is required is the expenditure of a little political capital and some initiative.

It would be far better that we pay are way into the future we want for our children rather than finance that future with debt for which our children will ultimately be responsible.

Photo Credit: Canada Energy Bubble/shutterstock

Jim Baird's picture

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Discussions

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 6, 2016

Jim, ever since the IPCC prescribed doing away with fossil fuels by 2100, the energy blogosphere has been rife with deals with the devil – how to finance that goal by extracting, selling, and burning more fossil fuels now. Can anyone fail to consider the environmental logic behind nuclear-spent-fuel-bitumen-extraction any less twisted than that of the “Pickens Plan”?

As sympathetic as I am to the financial needs of Canadian citizens, fossil fuel extraction is an environmental and economic dead end. The sooner that fact is recognized, the least strain will be placed on an already fragile economy.

DOE’s Integral Fast Reactor program was on the verge of prototype construction when it was killed by President Clinton and Senator John Kerry in 1994. IFRs are capable of producing clean electricity from the spent fuel Alberta wants to be paid to bury in the ground. How much? A DOE physicist estimates the spent fuel currently stored onsite at the Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant in Minnesota would be capable of providing as much clean energy as the plant does now for 900 years.

Instead, Alberta should be providing financial incentives for nuclear, OTEC, and other clean technology startups in the U.S. to relocate to the province. Others are already taking advantage of this positive trend – one with a future.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on January 6, 2016

Bob the plutonium cycle has been the dream of the nuclear industry from its inception. It is one of the main reasons the industry has failed. Myak and Hanford are the two most polluted places on the planet as a result of plutonium refining. Fast reactors require fuel that is at least 20 percent enriched thus spent fuel refining is required to produce this fuel with all of its problems and proliferation potential.

The industry is the ultimate example of proposing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result.

To the best of my knowledge the once-through cycle is still the law of the land in the United States and it is favoured by many other countries who are seeking repositories.

I agree fossil fuels are a dead end. The end of that road however is a ways off and I prefer to see at least some of the remaining revenue from that industry ending up on this continent rather than going towards building towering infernos in the Middle East.

As for trying to entice U.S. startups to move to Canada, we have plenty of our own ideas struggling to get off the ground for lack of financing and provincial and federal governments are seeing a big chunk of their revenue drying up. This is simply a proposed way to finance the move to the future we both desire.

As to the nuclear industry the Canadian taxpayer lost its shirt on it, in no small part due to the lack of a solution to the waste problem.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 6, 2016

Jim, the IFR was designed specifically to address potential proliferation problems by integrating refinement onsite (the “I” in IFR). It uses an electrorefining process vastly more efficient than PUREX or any one of similar multi-step chemical refining processes. Not strictly a plutonium cycle reactor, it burns all transuranics, leaving behind 1% of the waste of a PWR by mass. Waste is dangerously radioactive for 300 years vs. 2,000,000.

The nuclear industry has never expected the same result from different designs, but constantly seeks to improve them. That, in a word, is progress. If we’re forced to rely on 50-year-old preconceptions for evaluating new designs in energy, well, we might as well keep burning coal.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on January 6, 2016

Bob, the Candu is probably a better alternative for reusing fuel. In spite of the benefits the effort never got off the ground so I don’t share your faith in the industry’s ability to regain the social license necessary to remain relevant.

Nuclear power was touted as the solution to climate change 25 years ago but it has gone nothing but backwards ever since.

Best to you in the New Year.

Hops Gegangen's picture
Hops Gegangen on January 7, 2016

 

If there’s one thing Canada has a lot of, it is lignocellulose (wood). There are some reasonably effective methods of turning that into fuels, although with no price on carbon and a glut of oil, not competitive with fossil fuel right now. 

I wonder if some of the equipment used to upgrade the bitumen could be repurposed.

Then we could build Keystone XL and feel good about it.

 

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on January 7, 2016

Hops, a number of quid pro quos for Keytone XL were offered here and here to no avail. Nuclear waste was one of them.

Now Trans Canada has taken the matter to court where I suspect they have a fair chance of winning or at least recovering significant damages.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 7, 2016

Hops, unfortunately that lignocellulose is performing an important function right now as a carbon sink. Freeing its carbon into the atmosphere over the timespan of a few decades would be disastrous, but that’s exactly what eager Canadian entrepreneurs are doing by grinding forests into wood pellets and selling them as “biomass”.

Who would believe this bio-bullshit is environmentally responsible? Apparently, both sellers and buyers of pellets are happy to embrace the myth – as Ben Franklin would have said: “a Eurodollar saved is a Eurodollar earned”. Anti-nuclear Europeans trying to keep electricity coming out of the wall with wind and solar are realizing it’s quite a bit more expensive than they thought it would be. They’re not only burning their own forests down, but keeping Canadian wood pellet exports increasing by 1% annually to fill in the ample energy gaps.

(Disclaimer: wood pellets were green once, when they had leaves growing out of them.)

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/wood_pellets_green_energy_or_new_source_of_...

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 7, 2016

Jim, the spent nuclear fuel currently stored in dry casks is only “waste” to those with a poor understanding of it.

To everyone else, it’s a potent source of clean energy. I’m sure when withering Canadian fossil fuel companies like TransCanada come to that realization spent fuel will be available for sale, and satisfactory terms can be arranged.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on January 7, 2016

Bob, emplacing spent fuel in an oil sands formation encased in a drill string does not preclude recovery of the fuel and its recycling once the oil sands have been produced and the fuel has cooled.

Why let good heat go to waste or for that matter bad heat in the case of ocean surface heat?

Heat management is the foundation of this approach and that of heat pipe OTEC.

 

 

Hops Gegangen's picture
Hops Gegangen on January 7, 2016

 

OMG, I agree with you. We should hang onto it and see if the technology comes along to use it. As I recall, TerraPower thinks it can be used, which sounds promising.

Hops Gegangen's picture
Hops Gegangen on January 7, 2016

 

I’m not talking about wood pellets from hardwood forests. I’m talking about liquid fuels from pine trees.

In parts of Canada, it often burns anyway — millions of acres burned last year. Thinning them out a bit can create fire breaks. And they can grow back faster than the hardwoods used for pellets, especially as Canada warms and the CO2 increases.

 

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 7, 2016

Jim, I admit I’m completely ignorant of how spent fuel could be recovered from a drill string. If you have a link on that I’d love to see it.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 7, 2016

Hops, I’ll avoid hijacking Jim’s thread on Canadian energy to note that it’s great to share space with you on solutions – I know we’re both here for the same reason.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on January 7, 2016

Bob, bit diameters range from 8.5 to 36 inches. The o.d. of the largest fuel bundles are less than 10 inches. Although conventional drill pipe is not big enough to accomodate these bundles casings are. It too can be fitted with threaded male and female ends which should allow them to be tripped in and out of a drill hole just like drill string is tripped every day. Further the pipe will be hot and have a greater diameter going in than once it has cooled. 

I don’t recommend it but I believe it is possible.

 

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on January 7, 2016

Jim, Candu heavy water reactors can get another 20% of so more energy out spent fuel from light water reactors (they mainly burn the remaining fissile isotopes, which are about 2% of the fuel), and they leave roughly the same amount of long-lived transuranics. (The DUPIC process for doing this does not require chemical reprocessing of the fuel, so it has been suggested for “lesser” countries to support US hegemony).

Fast reactors like the US-designed IFR or the new BN-800 (which Russia just brought on-line) can burn all of the long-lived transuranics, plus they can use all of the remaining uranium (95% of the fuel) and enrichment tails (ten times more massive than the enriched fuel), which provide up to a 100x (10,000 %) increase in the energy output from a given amount of uranium ore.

Meanwhile, France, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ontario are all continuing to show that grids which are rich in nuclear power and hydro don’t need fossil fuel, and opponents of nuclear power (mostly living in coal producing countries like Germany) keep telling us we should not use nuclear.

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on January 8, 2016

Nathan I don’t understand the “”lesser” countries to support US hegemony” comment. My understanding was lack of the need for reprocessing was the main selling point. 

The history of reprocessing is pretty ugly and although new processes may be great improvements it still is a hard sell.

I had some correspondence with Bernard Eastlund about his large volume plasma process when I was working on the problem and although it seem to have great promise it has never gone anywhere as far as I know.

I was a supporter of nuclear energy for a long time but have since come around to Joe Romm’s point of view. I have come to believe OTEC is a better answer to the warming problem because of the multiplier effect. The more energy produced by the process the more the ocean surface and thus the atmosphere is cooled. With nukes you compound the heating and although waste heat is considered small potatoes in terms of global warming it still is better to convert warming heat to work and move the bulk into the abyss.Marvel et al refer to ocean heat uptake as “unrealised radiative imbalance” and we need a lot more of it. Particularly when you can produce as much energy as we now get from fossil fuels by unrealising the trapped heat. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 8, 2016

Jim, Joe Romm’s biggest objection to nuclear power is cost. Or so he says – yet he’s fixated on quoting American costs, which are mulitples of costs worldwide per MWh.

The only logical explanation is there’s an ideological, anti-nuclear philosophy at work. For most anti-nuclear activists, that philosophy is grounded in irrational fears. Otherwise, he would be attacking the reasons it costs so much in the U.S. – not a carbon-free, robust technology.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on January 8, 2016

Thanks Hops. Much of that forest is a planted industrial monoculture forest. Biodiversity serves several goals, including carbon sequestration. Any well intended resonable discussion of forest management would never allow the baloney we too frequently see on TEC. Canada is a major contributor to climate stability and forest preservation, and could do more with constructive partnerships.

Perhaps a physics concept worth considering is quantum mechanics. One photon of sufficient energy will do more chemical work than thousands of photons of insufficient energy. We can get those high energy photons from the sun, but Canada doesn’t have much sun. Another option is something like a CO2 laser that readily evaporates wood. Enzymes are similar optical “nano” devices, but they are too big to work on cellulose quickly. Yet another option is to saturate the wood with water and freeze it during winter, breaking the structure.

Lignin and pine tar are effective hardening and preservative compounds. Compare to grass.

All in all, with MidEast turmoil, China building new island fortresses, North Korea bragging about nuclear missiles (and who knows what other WMDs), debt here there and everywhere, climate, etc., it’s a good time to get real. All these “scientists” with nothing to show anybody need to learn theory is great laboratory work, but strategic public policy needs some demonstrated facts.

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on January 10, 2016

I was a supporter of nuclear energy for a long time but have since come around to Joe Romm’s point of view.”

Jim –

If you check on Romm’s numbers and discount the hand waiving, there’s not much left.  One of his points is that nuclear can’t be built fast enough. In 1977, 42 reactors were started, one every nine days, and in 1984, 33 reactors came online globably, one every eleven days, all done with no urgency. Building, say,  50 per year thus seems easily feasible, especially given the addition of Chinese manufacturing ability in the 21st century, the latest generation nuclear designs. 

Such a build rate won’t completely decarbonize the planet by 2050, but it will surely have all fossil use sharply declining and on the way to nil shortly thereafter.  Romm’s pricing argument is tired, as he does not bother to mention China, India, where nuclear construction prices are quite reasonable and nuclear power stands to make the most difference to global carbon emissions.   

What does Romm give by way of an alternative?  The usual intermittents, championed by the flawed and gas industry funded work of Jacobson. 

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on January 11, 2016

“Meanwhile, France, Sweden, ….”

Swedish politicians have developed a novel way of getting rid op their nuclear industry. They are simply raising taxes on nuclear power plants until they go bankrupt. The benefits of this strategy are:

– Antinuclear activists can point to Sweden and say: “Nuclear power cannot compete.”.

– The Swedish government can gain hundreds of millions in additional tax revenues until the plants are shut down

– A particular novelty of the Swedish nuclear tax is that the tax is raised not on the amount of electricity produced by the powerplants, but on the maximum amount of electricity they could *potentially* produce. This works well together with the subsidisation of wind and solar power. Wind and solar power tend to reduce the full power hours of baseload power plants, so taxing the *potential* power output of the nuclear power plants ensures that the tax revenues will keep coming, even if the power plants have to run fewer hours due to subsidisation of wind and solar power.

[]He says that Sweden’s coalition government, which includes the Green Party, is sacrificing nuclear energy for political expediency.

“It’s sort of a bargain the current government has done, that we should raise taxes on nuclear and force the least economical reactors out of operation,” he told me.

“Right now four of the reactors in Sweden have announced that they cannot operate anymore because they cannot make any money.”[]

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35168840

Concerning this innovative Swedish strategy whereby nuclear power is taxed even if it it not produced, it turns out that the EU Court has given the go-ahead to this innovation. So this strategy is something that other EU member states like Belgium and France can also consider in their crusade to destroy their own clean power infrastructure.

[]The EU Court of Justice deemed Sweden’s levy on the available power of reactors rather than the actual amount of electricity they provide doesn’t violate the bloc’s energy tax directive. After Sweden increased the tax by 17 percent in August, it now costs the nuclear industry about 4.6 billion kronor ($548 million) a year, according to lobby group Swedenergy.[]

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-01/swedish-nuclear-tax-to-get-eu-verdict-after-industry-complaints

Antinuclear activism in Europe is on steriods, counting one success after another, and I for one am looking forward to the innovative new ways in which European politicians will continue to succeed in quietly crippling and destroying European clean energy production capacity until the lights go out in Europe and/or climate change impacts become irreversible.

 

Jim Baird's picture
Jim Baird on January 11, 2016

Joris, I think this makes the point about nuclear power’s social license; in a lot of jurisdictions it has evaporated.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on January 11, 2016

I will be the first to agree that we need an enormous R&D investment growth in nuclear energy research. But I will be the last to agree with the nuclear advocacy rubbish tirelessly undermining quality energy discussions on sites like TEC.

The very act of splitting neutron excess heavy nuclei creates at least 2 more unstable lighter nuclei, and other radiation types. Waste is much more than unused fissionable material and is a very real challenge not to be trivialized. And to trivialize the rapid deployment of trivialized complex and trivialized hazardous potential nuclear energy facilities is unacceptable.

Those that respect nuclear energy technology are NOT anti-nuclear energy. I’m not aware of any serious science that is easy. Only con-artists sink to the “all we gotta do” level, accompanied by the “you’re stupid and evil if you express concern.”

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 11, 2016

Rick, rubbish is in the eye of the beholder. Me, I’m the last to agree with anti-nuclear advocacy rubbish tirelessly undermining quality energy discussions on sites like TEC. Ones which fail to demonstrate:

  • what’s not technologically trivial about safe spent fuel storage, which has a spotless record of achievement for half a century in the U.S., and
  • what’s hazardous about potential nuclear energy systems with advanced safety features – ones which make the safest generation of all even safer

No nuclear advocates (that I know, anyway) think it’s “all we gotta do”  – we just think it’s the most effective way to decarbonize energy. If we’re correct, why waste time and money on anything else?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 11, 2016

JIm, yet people in those jurisdictions somehow believe their “social license” entitles them to share their excessive carbon emissions with everyone else.

That kind of sucks.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on January 11, 2016

Sorry Rick, but you are deluding yourself if you think nuclear is the most dangerous energy source.  Whatever hypothetical dangers you might imagine, the real world safety performance is what counts, and by that metric, coal is by far the biggest concern.  In fact, nuclear is safer (and lower CO2-emitting) than plausible combinations of wind, solar, and fossil gas backup.

see this article or this one on NBF.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on January 12, 2016

The waste profile of nuclear power is one of the most important *benefits* of nuclear power versus every other energy technology. The waste is compact and very easily and cheaply stored, self-protecting (against theft or illicit dumping), and has a very high economic value for future generations (when used in fast reactors). All other energy technologies have waste which is routinely dumped in the environment, causing massive damage and death. Yet they still get a free pass!

The fact that many people (who I talk to) still think that ‘the nuclear waste issue’ is an actual issue is proof that antinuclear lies are still impacting the public intelligence.

That Rick is apparently still preoccupied with ‘the waste issue’ is somewhat surprising to me, because he has been an active contributor to TEC discussion for several years now. Surely, he should understand the details of this ‘issue’ by now. But I suppose this indicates that nuclear advocate need to do far, far more to eliminate the chronic misunderstandings. It’s not enough to mention that nuclear waste is a trivial problem, relative to the waste of other technologies. We have to repeat this every chance we get. Certainly, the antinuclear movement is repeating their lies about this as often as they can.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on January 12, 2016

I suppose the relevant question is: “why has it evaporated?”. It has evaporated due to the incessant lies of the despicable antihuman antiscience antinuclear movement. I won’t dismiss nuclear simply because antinukes have brainwashed the public against it. I will try to combat the lies of the antinukes instead. I believe that truth eventually conquers lies. That belief is part of my optimistic nature and I already know that I will never abandon it.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on January 12, 2016

I’ll be more specific and limit my involvement to the nuclear waste issue.

We can go in any store and buy a candy bar with a listing of what is in the candy bar. Yet I have never heard any accurate description of what “nuclear waste” is. Instead, we get a pile of rubbish dumped in our path to find facts (as below).

We understand every candy bar will not cause illness, but we make informed choices based on the best widely available information. Simple.

Getting even remotely honest information regarding unstable isotopes and ionizing radiation increasingly seems impossible. Many early genetic mapping experiments we done on EColi or fruit flies subjected to radiation induced “point defects.”

Please provide a composition list of what “nuclear waste” is and what it becomes over time. And you will earn a bit of confidence as we have in a candy bar.

Joris van Dorp's picture
Joris van Dorp on January 12, 2016

Your comment is very similar to the kind of suggestive, hate- and fear-mongering antinuclear nonsense spouted by Dr. Helen Caldicott. Is she your ‘honest’ source of information on nuclear matters?

For reliable information on nuclear waste, here’s the first result google gave me:

http://www.world-nuclear.org/nuclear-basics/what-are-nuclear-wastes-/

On the effects of ionising radiation, I suggest you study the UNSCEAR website.

http://www.unscear.org/

For some very useful scientific commentary on modern radiation health physics, I recommend:

http://radiationeffects.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on January 12, 2016

Rick, you’ve never heard any accurate breakdown of nuclear “waste” because one doesn’t exist – tt’s a mix of 100+ elements and their isotopes in varying concentrations. The only common thread is that part of it is a potentially harmful source of ionizing radiation, and must be either:

  • stored in a safe place for a long time, or
  • stored in a safe place until it can be rendered radiologically inert (more likely)

There’s not much of that. All high-level spent fuel generated globally to date would cover one football field eight yards deep.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioactive_waste

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